A Maple Ridge man who had $10,000 in cash seized by border agents in 2010 has lost a final appeal to get his money back.
A currency detector dog sniffed out the unreported cash when Robert Docherty was boarding a flight to Costa Rica at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
Border guards seized the money, suspecting it was proceeds of crime.
In an interview with the Canadian Border Service Agency, Docherty acknowledged that he was aware that any amount of money over $10,000 must be declared at the border.
Docherty thought he had packed just enough cash to slip under that threshold, taking $9,880 U.S. and $335 Canadian with him as he headed to Central America.
However, by the time he boarded his flight, the exchange rate for U.S. dollars pushed him over the allowable limit.
In a ruling from the Federal Court of Canada, the judge noted: “This is a case of a traveller sailing too close to the legal winds. But for greed, this applicant would not be in court.”
Docherty twice represented himself in court in an effort to get back the money.
His latest plea to the Federal Court of Appeal has also failed.
Docherty claimed the money came from an inheritance, which he invested in a wild mushroom picking business run by his daughter.
However, Docherty did not produce any business or banking records to support his position.
He relied on a statutory declaration by his daughter, affirming that she gave him an undetermined amount of U.S. currency sometime immediately before funds were seized at the airport.
Docherty told the court he was going to use the cash to purchase property in Costa Rica on his daughter’s behalf, and claimed he made no attempt to conceal it.
Docherty argued that border agents were biased and prejudiced because he admitted he had some trouble with police for “growing” and a criminal conviction, dating back to 1993.
Unsatisfied with his explanation, the government believed there were sufficient grounds to suspect the money came from crime.
Most people do not have – let alone carry – $10,000 cash, the CBSA noted in its reasons for seizing the funds.
“The applicant gave many conflicting stories on what the money would be used for. Smuggling cash across international borders is a strong indicator that the funds are proceeds of crime.”
In dismissing the appeal last week, Justice J.D. Denis Pelletier acknowledged there may be an innocent explanation for the presence of these funds, but Docherty could not establish that.
“Individuals are free to arrange their affairs so as to leave the smallest possible financial footprint consistent with their obligations under federal and provincial tax laws,” Justice Pelletier wrote.
“The disadvantage of doing so is that when a question arises as to the source of large amounts of cash found in their possession, they have very few means of establishing the legitimacy of those funds. In this case, Mr. Docherty’s explanations were unverifiable and, as such, amounted to no explanation at all.”
Docherty could not be reached for comment.